TEENAGERS who allegedly set fire to a derelict flat have been described as 'reckless' and warned they put their own lives at risk.

Firefighters, police and paramedics were called to the incident at a flat in Stansfeld Street, Blackburn, close to Mambo's Tanning Centre, at around 1.50pm today.

Police said five teenagers aged between 15 and 16 had been seen playing in the area around the time the blaze started but when firefighters had arrived the flat was empty.

Police said staff from the tanning business had smelt smoke coming from the flat and extinguished the fire before emergency services arrived. Nobody was injured in the incident.

But a politician has called on parents keep a closer eye on their children and warned it could prove fatal next time.

Cllr Jim Smith, who represents the Mill Hill ward on Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "My thoughts are with the safety of the teenagers. While it might seem funny to them it's highly dangerous and reckless behaviour.

"I would ask parents who think their children may be involved in this to put a stop to it right away."

Cllr Smith said work will start soon to demolish some of the derelict properties in Stansfeld Street.

A fire service spokesman: "The 999 caller reported a fire in a disused shop, saying youths had been seen there, possibly still inside.

"Two fire engines and crews from Darwen and one from Blackburn responded and firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus searched for any possible casualties.

"There were none and firefighters put out a small fire in a front room on the first floor. Police informed of the suspected arson."

A police spokesman said: "We were called by the fire service to a fire at a flat above a derelict shop, located next to a tanning salon.

"There was nobody inside when emergency services arrived. It appears staff at the tanning salon have become aware of smoke coming from the flat and used a fire extinguisher to put the fire out.

"Five youths between the ages of 15 and 16 were seen a short time before the fire started.

"Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting log 710 of May 17."